Inlays and onlays are used to rebuild teeth that have lost a moderate to large amount of their structure.  

  • An INLAY is contained within the cusps of the teeth, and are cemented or bonded into place
  • An ONLAY covers over the cusps, and is cemented or bonded in the same way as an inlay

Unlike direct restorations (fillings), they are made in two stages, much like a crown.  The tooth is prepared, an impression taken and sent to a dental laboratory for inlay/onlay construction.  When the inlay/onlay is returned, it is cemented or bonded into the tooth.

The process is almost identical to crown construction, but is more conservative of your natural tooth.  For an inlay or onlay to be successful, very strict size/shape/depth criteria need to be met.

The advantages of inlays and onlays are that they are very strong, and can look very close to natural teeth if made of porcelain.  They are durable and occasionally more conservative of tooth structure than crowns.  The disadvantages are cost due to the use of a laboratory and high cost materials, and they may require removal of tooth structure for preparation.

Your dentist will carefully consider the best option when assessing your restorative needs.